Recent news stories about reported deaths by suicide among professional athletes, including most recently former NFL player Junior Seau, have raised attention to this tragic public health issue. Suicide is complex, as is its impact on others especially when it involves a public figure. Loved ones, the community, and fans are left with a tremendous sense of loss and questions about why it happened, and what could have been done to prevent it.In the wake of this tragedy, we must use this time to educate ourselves and others on the warning signs of suicide and prevent future loss of life. Just as it is important to understand mental and substance use disorders, it’s crucial to know that suicides are preventable and there are steps you can take to help friends, coworkers, and loved ones in need get help and support.
An essential step in suicide prevention is recognizing warning signs and behaviors, which may include:
- Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself (e.g., searching online for ways to die, or buying a gun).
- Comments about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain.
- References to being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
We have resources that can help. SAMHSA works every day to help those in suicidal crisis or emotional distress get the help they need, and realize they are not alone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline with a mental health professional available at any time, day or night. We also encourage you to click here for a brochure and more information on the Lifeline.
If you recognize the warning signs in yourself or others, speak up right away to get needed help. Proper education, understanding, and knowledge of resources will help our communities be more open to talking about suicide, reducing suicide rates, and helping those with mental and substance use disorders receive treatment in the same way treatment is available for any other health issue.
Unexpected or premature death is always tragic. Let’s use recent events to spur conversations within our community and educate others to prevent suicides.